An economy stuck in neutral. Unemployment that refused to go down. And a near financial disaster in Europe.

Despite all the negatives — and a few surprises, like the terrifying “flash crash” of the stock market in May — 2010 proved in the end to be a pretty good year for investors, especially if you were lucky enough to own shares in highflying technology stocks, old-fashioned industrials or gold.“In many cases, the conventional wisdom was wrong,” said Byron R. Wien, a veteran market strategist at the Blackstone Group. “The market still managed to do well, and the rise in gold and other commodities was a big surprise.”The typical equity fund in the United States returned nearly 19 percent in 2010, while the Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index rose 12.8 percent. That was below the gains of 2009, when the markets rebounded from the financial crisis and the S.&P. index soared 23 percent.

By Nelson D. Schwartz, Dec. 31, 10 NYT

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